Bonnie Marranca

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Title

Bonnie Marranca

Description

Tribute written by the editor and publisher of A Journal of Performance and Art.

Creator

Bonnie Marranca

Contributor

Elinor Fuchs

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Text

Dan Gerould was a member PAJ’s original editorial board and began publishing the first of a long list of translations in our second issue, Fall 1976, with the play Birth Rate, by Polish poet Tadeusz Rożewicz. Over the decades he published many of his translations of Slavic and French authors, who include Valerii Briusov, Tadeusz Kantor, Miroslav Krleža, Leonid Andrejev, Andrzej Bursa, Prosper Mérimée, Vasily Aksyonov, Madame Rachilde, Stanislaw I. Witkiewicz, and Andrei Bely. There were also numerous essays on general themes, such as his In Praise of the Anthologist’s Craft. Indeed it was all about care and craft in the superb way the editions of plays and essays Dan compiled fit together in a single volume, the work of a keen editorial eye. There was not simply a bunch of gathered texts but a community of writers. His wide-ranging essays illuminated the life and work of every author he wrote about, opening wider to the world beyond the text.

Dan published many essays and translations of plays in PAJ, and as an editor he contributed several volumes to our book division, such as The Beelzebub Sonata by Witkiewicz; Gallant and Libertine: Divertissements & Parades of 18th Century France; Doubles, Demons and Dreamers: An International Collection of Symbolist Drama, which is now a classic in the field, bringing together more than a dozen plays from around the world; and, American Melodrama, another mainstay of the curriculum. Only a few days before his death, I discussed plans with him for a new reprint of this volume.

Dan was a translator and critic who saw his role in the broad intellectual scope of Theatre. Writing, editing, and translating were inextricably woven in with his teaching at the Graduate Center, where he remained for forty years, bringing into focus the organic wholeness of his life as a scholar. He trained generations of students at CUNY, including me, becoming a mentor for many of us, and was always a resource for the odd research question. One of my vivid memories of Dan is to recall him, even decades after he had been teaching, going over notes in his office before each class. In that sense, he was a model of professional ethics as a teacher. His Socratic approach offered a timeless form of intellectual analysis and structural intelligence, and a critical methodology that I have used as the basis of my own note-taking for essays, and for teaching dramatic literature as well. I am sure I am not the only one of his students to do so.

A man such as Daniel Gerould represented an earlier style of academic life, when scholars often stayed at the same school, mentoring generations of students, and whose work helped establish fields of study through decades of tireless stewardship and little self-promotion, in his case making an enormous contribution to the translation and understanding of European dramatic literature. In particular, he brought Polish writers to the attention of an English-speaking theatre that had barely heard of them. Only recently I had reminded readers in my PAJ 100 editorial that it was scholars of his generation—I noted a number of them—who laid the foundation for what we know of as modern theatre and drama, still full of gaps as recently as the sixties and seventies.

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Citation

Bonnie Marranca, “Bonnie Marranca,” The Daniel Gerould Archives, accessed December 11, 2017, http://www.danielgerouldarchives.org/items/show/128.